I told a boy who doesn’t like to hug me that I won’t make him but to remember these things are finite and there will come a day when all opportunities are gone.
It happened not long after he watched me manhandle some heavy crap with relative ease. I caught him watching in a way I hadn’t seen in a long time but I didn’t point it out.
There wasn’t any reason to make him self conscious and given recent circumstances I am hyper aware of such things.
Today we had a late lunch at our local deli and he asked me if I expected grandpa to beat this one more time.
“Yeah, I knew better but I saw my father do stuff they said he couldn’t do over and over again. When I helped him change his shirt at the rehab facility I felt the strength in his arms.
People will say I am romanticizing things, but I am telling you he had enough arm strength to have held me down if he wanted to. I could have freed myself, but I would have had to work hard at it.
When I felt that in his arms I figured we just needed to get his legs back and we’d get him back for a little bit longer.”
Obviously that didn’t happen.
I am still surprised he didn’t pull himself up into an upright position because I was certain that was going to happen one last time.
Things You Don’t Understand
I told that son of mine about the doctor and how some people have yelled at me for not getting checked out the way they think I ought to.
“You know I would take on everyone and everything in this area for your sister. You know I would go through the wall if necessary. I may not be graceful but I am built for destruction and pretty good at tearing down walls.”
He nodded his head and I wondered what lay under the surface and what sort of memories were floating around there.
Neither one of have dad’s blue eyes but we have the same hands and feet. Our frames are close enough that we gave Wilner the younger a few of grandpa’s jackets.
Grandpa would have liked that, Wilner the younger certainly did and I did too.
He is so damn big now, this son of mine and so very smart.
I sat in the deli, looked around and thought again about how in our line of Wilner men we are down to just us two.
Dad and I didn’t really discuss that much or talk about whether there is any significance to it.
But sitting there I thought again about the things you don’t understand until your father is gone.
Don’t care if that sounds like hyperbole or if you think I am melodramatic because it doesn’t really click until you know there are no more days of listening to your dad snore.
‘Cuz when you know that you are closer to the end than the start you listen to it and realize it has been a constant your entire life and it is kind of soothing.
Some of the blurrier aspects of the past months are wearing off and I am seeing some things with more clarity.
I am thinking about the multiple goodbyes we said during the quick trips I took back home to see my folks.
Thinking about how dad surprised me once and pulled me close, kissed my cheek and said goodbye.
When I looked at his eyes I saw something I hadn’t seen before, a getting ready for things that could happen.
Every flight to and from was filled with a certain amount of concern about what news I would or wouldn’t hear upon landing.
July 11 was the last goodbye where I didn’t know what would happen.
It was at the rehab facility and it was just dad and I.
He was exhausted and slept most of the few hours I had before I had to race for the airport. I didn’t push him to stay awake, but when he was conscious I made a point to make the most of it.
It was the last time where he really hugged me back. The last time where he wasn’t in crazy amounts of pain or drugged.
So when he was awake he was present and found it easy to talk.
Less than a month later I sit here writing this trying not to feel like I should have found a way to spend more time with him.
It is not a surprise to me, I anticipated it. Dad and I even talked about it, but it doesn’t make it go away either.
Just something I’ll have to let run its course.
Some time this week or next I am going to go eat lunch or grab a beer at the Thirsty Lion. It strikes me as the kind of place dad would have liked.
I have heard good things about it and I like to think I got some of his skills at sniffing out a good restaurant.
Sitting here with the music on I am lost in thought about the last conversations he had about life and career.
The old man told me not to be so hard on myself and said I had figured things out better than I realized.
I wish he was here now so I could tell him about a couple of recent developments. Wish he was around so I could say you remember the story about XYZ?
You’ll appreciate how that turned out…but dad’s not here and though I can still tell him it is not the same.
I expect as time goes on there will be moments where I will be ok with that and moments where I won’t.
It is easy to hear him say ‘life isn’t fair’ or that ‘you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders’ and strange to think that now if the elder Wilner male needs to say it, I will be the one to do it.
Am I really that old?
Is this really happening?
Yeah, and yes it it did and is.